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A note of hope for electoral reform prospects in the future.

According to this Green Party member: among voters aged 18-34, MMP received 67% support. So it’s not whether we will have electoral reform, it’s when.

This is not the end of the electoral reform fight – it’s merely the beginning.


13 comments to A note of hope for electoral reform prospects in the future.

  • I’ve seen some numbers that indicate that MMP was soundly supported by younger voters who did turn out. I have no idea what the source of that data is, but assuming it is accurate – I’ll throw this at you as a hypothesis:

    The major criticism of MMP and other proportionality-seeking ballot reform initiatives is that it moves representation from a "locality" and essentially makes it "idea" based. (I.e. representing parties as opposed to representing places). As younger voters are more transient than their parents and grandparents, and as their sense of community is less physically confined by a particular place or space, they are more likely to embrace the notion of electing people that represent their sense of what a community is, while older voters cling to a more geographic sense of community. Just a thought.

  • mushroom


    The problems certain waverers have towards MMP have led me to become a proponent of STV.  From the response of many progressive bloggers within our own party, I believe that voters want to tack a name on their election ballot instead of entertaining the notion of list candidates.  This is due to the emerging disillusionment of political parties, particularly the major ones who are now so pragmatic and ruthless in maintaining power that they no longer represent the political ideas and interests of the electorate at large.  As a result, you see lower turnout than ever particularly among the young who tend to vote much less.

    My promise to you stands.  However, for the progressive politics I would like to see, I will need to see a change in politics in which political ideologies matter whether they be social conservative, liberal fundamentalist, or neo-marxist socialism.  For this to happen political parties need to play a role in promoting change.  Unfortunately, entrenched interests have led to the creation of cynical institutions that the electorate have fretted about.     

  • ALW:

    I’m certainly not advocating referendum after referendum.. but there are other constituencies besides Ontario to advocate for this.

  • Before any change is possible people need some measure of belief that their vote makes a difference, faith in the system, and some sort of trust in government… 47.4% of the people in Ontario obviously have issues with one, or all, of those issues.

    According to CFRA the 18 – 26 age group stayed home in droves….. what does that tell you?

  • ALW

    As someone who supports changes to the system, but voted against this particular proposed change, I’m sorry to see that this the vote wasn’t at least a bit closer. I would like to see talk of reform continue, but I suspect this will put the issue to rest for at least a few years.
    That said, I reject this nonsense that "people just weren’t informed". Can’t this argument always be made, not just about referenda, but about elections in general? If the PC Party, for example, complained that "people weren’t informed" about their policies as a reason for their defeat in this election, how would it come across? So I don’t think it reflects well on supporters of MMP to blame the public for being stupid or lazy. Shocking as it may be to some people, there’s no rule in politics about people having to vote this way or that way because of informed consideration of issues. People are free to make choices for all sorts of reasons you or I might find silly or even appalling. That’s what makes it so aggravating for anyone who loses an election: sometimes ir feels like the so-called "informed" vote is heavily outnumbered by the "great unwashed". Except the moment you somehow claim such a result is unjust or unfair or tragic, then you are basically criticizing the fundamental premise of a democratic system. And you sound like a sore loser.
    Finally, Scott, saying "let’s just get them next time" sounds strikingly similar to the arguments the separatists in Quebec made with their insistence that when they lose, they can keep holding referenda until they get the result they want. I disagree. Referenda are arguably far more serious affairs than elections because of the impact they have: hence the reason the threshold for them to pass is higher than in elections.
    Personally, I think the proposed system, whatever its merits, was too complicated to explain to most people. If an STV system had been proposed, it might have passed – I know I would’ve voted for it.

  • Electoral reform is not dead. At least I hope electoral reform is not dead. But I hope MMP is.

    Scott, I know this issue meant a lot to you, and that we disagree on its merits, but people who supported this idea deserve to be commended for trying to make this happen.

    A couple things that I note from last night’s referendum result is that I hope it puts to bed the notion that current political parties and current electoral voting systems are the cause of voter apathy. Those apathetic
    voters had an opportunity to make a change last night, and they turned out in even lower numbers. So let’s be less hasty to attribute turnout numbers to the "system". Or, at the very least, let’s admit that the changes proposed to the "system" this time around did nothing to motivate that mass of the electorate. If MMP would increase participation, then surely a referendum to make MMP a reality would have. Clearly, it did not. In fact, fewer people voted in the referendum than did in the election. If low turnout in an election is interpreted as a repudiation of the parties tunning, than certainly the same must be true for an idea subject to referendum.

    Lord Kitchener’s comments may cast a shadow over the election result, but if you apply the same logic to the referendum on MMP, then you can quite rightly say that only 18% Ontarians chose to move to an MMP system of electing our government.

  • Lord Kitchener's Own

    My numbers for today are 22, and 31.

    22% of eligible voters cast votes for the Liberals yesterday, and they got a "majority" government out of it.  Meanwhile, 31% of eligible voters chose to keep the system that made that happen (everything’s fine here, nothing to see, move along… move along…).

    I don’t know how many more elections I have in me before I join the almost 4 million people in Ontario who can’t be bothered.  I’m sure it’s partly just day-after depression when faced with the true nature of "democracy" in Ontario, but today, I have little fight left to work to make things better.

    It’s very depressing.

  • Well.. I don’t accept using a flawed system as this one, and  I will continue to advocate for changes – be they here, elsewhere, or federally.

  • Scott, I agree wholeheartedly.

    No party will touch the issue for the forseeable future. But that’s the trouble anyway: preferential ballots are good for the voters, but bad for the parties. It truly empowers voters. As long as that’s the case, parties won’t advocate for it, which means it’ll never be on our ballot.

    Given the choice between what we have and what parties will actually be willing to advocate for, I will choose what we have without reservation.

  • I’ll wait with baited breath David, for any of the mainstream parties to be advocating even minimal reforms – even to tinkering with FPTP/SMP – at least in Ontario. There have been no major initiatives to reform the voting system in FPTP in a very long time.. and I don’t expect that to change, particularly now.

  • Diversity has to be addressed by the parties at the nomination level (as much for a party list as for a riding). It is not a function of the electoral system, and there is no reason to believe a change in the electoral system would change the demographic balance. It’s merely wishful thinking to think it would.

    This is the softest form of proportional representation possible. If it was rejected, ergo proportional representation was rejected.

    BC-STV’s model is far superior to MMP, though still worse than SMP: it retains ridings as the exclusive means of getting into the legislature. It also uses a preferential ballot. Its major failings in my view are that it is complex, and it combines ridings into super-sized ridings. Born as a rural Quebecker, the notion that a riding should be bigger with the representative still less likely to have heard of my municipality is a non-starter.

    A single-riding, single-winner STV addresses the single greatest problem with SMP (I refuse to call what we have FPTP now that it is no longer on the ballot – FPTP implies that the winner is decided by the first poll counted, and is an absurd name to use for what is correctly called Single Member Plurality), which is the strategic, or split, vote. Single-riding, single-winner STV gives every riding its post liked candidate instead of least disliked candidate. It is a very important distinction and does not sacrifice big tent politics or the majoritarian system we have while making the system substantially more fair and honest.

  • Preferential ballots does nothing to address proportional voting, nor does it address the inequalities we see in representing diversity of our culture in the legislature or House of Commons. Also, I dispute that proportional representation has been rejected – just this particular model of mixed member.

    I agree with one commenter I saw elsewhere that said Ontario has always been "conservative" at changing things in politics or social systems – I’d argue PEI probably is the same way – and that WHEN change does come electorally, it will come from the Western provinces first. BC is the most obvious place to start the ball rolling. I’m not a big fan of their STV setup, but then again, it’s my view anything is better then the current system.

  • Hi Scott,

    I agree that electoral reform is not dead, but it’s definitely going into hibernation. I take PEI and Ontario’s almost identical rejection of MMP as an outright rejection of proportional representation.

    If we want real reform that’ll be accepted, we should be looking at preferential ballots.

    The debate between majoritarian and proportional electoral systems is not a new one. I believe reform within the majoritarian model is the way forward.

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